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 Bear

 

until a few years ago I had never seen one in the wild 

 

 

Speaking of bear, West Virginia is home to the Black Bear.

It is our official state mammal (more info at: West Virginia/black bear).

Until a few years ago I had never seen one in the wild. When we lived in Greenbrier county I knew some people
planned their vacation time around bear hunting season. Was much like deer hunting season here in Mercer county. Think the first bear I saw was in Greenbrier county. It crossed the backcountry road we were traveling coming down from Gunpowder Ridge toward the Greenbrier River. Brief sighting, it bounded onto the road from the downhill side of the road, crossed the narrow one lane road, and leaped uphill into the woods. Gone in a flash.

When we moved to the farm on Black Oak Mountain I ask about bear sightings. We knew they were here,
but never actually saw one. Were told by locals that they travel through this area in the fall on their way to
Camp Creek to hibernate. Fine by me. While hiking on the hillside behind our house we did find sign of bear.
A honeycomb in a tree had been clawed out, just at bear height. Another time we found bear paw prints in dust
on a work bench at our barn. Prints were heading to a feed bin that had been overturned and opened.
Bins held 100lbs of horse feed each. Horse feed had molasses mixed in it, a tasty treat for a critter with a sweet tooth. Raccoons had tried on many occasions to open those bins, unsuccessfully.

My brother lives on a farm next to ours. He has 250 acres, much of it wooded. I like to hike in the woods and photograph wildflowers. My brother warned me to be careful on his side of the ridge because bear had been spotted on game cam. He has a friend who likes to hunt. His friend set up a game cam just over the ridge from our place. He sighted the usual; turkey, raccoon, deer, coyote and BEAR. A couple of years ago the bear was seen with 4 cubs. That year the cubs actually tore down the game cam. Last year the momma bear had 3 new cubs. Our bear population is growing rapidly.

Summer of 2013 several bear sightings were reported. A UPS driver saw a bear cross the road
in front of his truck near our farm. A neighbor that lives down toward Rock was driving by our farm and saw a bear cross the road just above the switchback. My husband saw a very large bear ambling across the south hillside, going from Wright’s branch toward our house. More recently (January 2014), we saw a bear running up the road just beyond the switchback. At the time we had several pieces of heavy equipment working on the farm, must have disturbed his slumber. These are just sightings on our end off Black Oak Road. This week have learned of more sightings on the other end of Black Oak Road.

Our state mammal seems to be making himself at home on Black Oak Mountain.

 

 

Last updated January 2014

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